Why yes, [personal profile] mistersmearcase (still such an excellent LJ name, as good as [profile] oblomova and [profile] wouldprefernot2 and [personal profile] springheel_jack) I am totally copying you, plagiarizing, what you will. Think of it as a) sincere flattery, and b) your entry was kiiiind of like a meme, so it's not outright theft?

Anyway, I was going to write about Christmas anyway. I'm a third generation atheist (and my nieces are fourth generation atheists; I think that's so cool) but I guess -- I mean, duh, I know -- nominally that earlier than three generations back (and in my father's father's case, just two generations back) my forebears were indeed Christians -- and in a few branches, Catholics. But I don't care. They can't have Xmas. Xmas and all its semi pagan holly and mistletoe and yule logs and Christmas trees AND FUCKING COLORED LIGHTS are mine, damn it, and anyone who delights in them.

More embarrassingly though (because I am not embarrassed at all about my love for the shiny, glittery, glaring, neon, and over-the-top colorful brightness of Xmas lights and Xmas ornaments) is the fact that I like Christmas music. Lots and lots of Christmas music, including all the heavily religious classics, and the sentimental syrupy Christian claptrap (like, even "Away in a Manger" and "The Little Drummer Boy").

I have an iPod playlist of 365 Xmas songs, and that's even after pruning it this year of all the versions I'd had on it of 1) Jingle Bells, which I hate; 2) Santa Claus is Coming to Town (ditto); 3) "Frosty the Snowman" (which I LOATHE); and 4) "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" (ditto)... I also pruned some of the weird novelty songs Mark gave me, back in the day, like James Brown's Christmas oeuvre, some Pakistani multi-culti Xmas and Hanukkah and Kwanzaa song, and that annoying Beach Boys one about toys. But that still leaves me with more than ten versions of "Little Drummer Boy". Also, a vast number of Sufjan Stevens Xmas songs, because he has two albums, with something like SEVENTY SONGS. I buy one new Christmas album each year, the way I used to get new ornaments every year, but now I can't get any more because I am at maximum tree coverage, given how many lights I think a tree needs. This year, though, I ended up with three albums -- Maddy Pryor's "A Tapestry of Carols", a Johnny Cash album my friend [profile] john_b_cannon recommended from his (third) far flung Xmas in Saudi Arabia, and the Mary Chapin Carpenter Xmas album. I think my favorite in the last several years is the Christmas album Annie Lennox put out. So, yeah, I love Xmas music. I have lots of friends who HATE it, very, very much, so I play it at home, and sometimes I inflict it on my students, but they like about any soundtrack, really, so that's okay.

Otherwise in Xmas news, about five minutes before midnight tonight, I finished wrapping my presents for this year. Very few of them were locally purchased. Almost all of them involved me giving money to that evil behemoth, Amazon. Four came from Palestine via Germany -- four kaffiyehs made in a factory on the West Bank, with different patterns (two were the Ur traditional black-and-white, and red-and-white) named after different towns, like Hebron and Ramallah. Here, I'll list presents (I am pretty sure my sister would never dream of reading LJ anymore).

*for my dad: a hardback of the most recent entry in a British mystery series he likes a lot, whose author he has hung out with in Brighton

*for my stepmother (by request): a velour tracksuit -- and my mom got her one, too. She was pining for at least one velour tracksuit. I want photos.

*for my uncle: a trial subscription to The Economist... he's hard to get anything for. A Starbucks and a Panera card would probably have been better, but I like to imagine him reading that magazine before he starts wheeling and dealing in online trading... which is, for him, basically gambling, I think. He's a retired accountant.

*for my cousins and aunt in Milwaukee: See's Candy

All of the above were sent on their way Midwestward by the internet, whether via Amazon or not

*for my brother-in-law: the black-and-white kaffiyeh

*for my sister: the red-and-white kaffiyeh

*for Ruby, my 15 year old niece: a weekly planner (which turned out to be half the size I was expecting, so THAT sucked); a desk calendar that's kitschy and retro; two large sketchbooks; two pairs of earbuds and a travel case; a khaki-and-olive kaffiyeh; smelly candles and candle holders and a lighter

*for Rosie, my twelve year old niece who will turn thirteen on Christmas day, a wall calendar of vintage cats; a denim and chambray blue kaffiyeh; smelly candles and candle holders and a lighter; two large sketchbooks; two pairs of earbuds and a travel case... and as her separate birthday gift... first, a small present wrapped in Bollywood paper (which is a taste I successfully inculcated in her) of a set of five hella cute guitar picks... and then a fucking acoustic guitar. Dunno how good the quality is, but my mom is going to show her some stuff and then we'll look at YouTube videos, and if she likes it enough, my mom and I will split the cost of actual lessons.

*for my mom: a wall calendar of vintage animal posters; no kaffiyeh, but if she wants one (by the way, thanks, [personal profile] springheel_jack, you gave me the idea) I'll manage it... also, an audiobook of Neal Stephenson's Quicksilver, the first volume of the Baroque Cycle, and a subscription to Entertainment Weekly, which she generally "borrows" from me, though I end up reading about two pages of each issue. I figured I ought to cut out the middleman.

To be honest, I like getting, wrapping, and giving presents much more than I like getting them.

I want to put some photos in here, but it's a pain in the ass; I have to get them off my phone first, and then hosted by Photobucket, before I can put them in the entry. Maybe I'll do that tomorrow. Now that I am DONE WRAPPING everything... except Rosie's guitar picks, which are supposed to arrive tomorrow.
maeve66: (Nagini)
Okay, that's a stupid title. But whatever. I haven't posted in yonks (= donkeys' years, Brit colloquialism from my early 20s), in ages, in literally months or more than a year, I am not even sure. I could look, but I won't.

My last gift from Winter Break was from my poor father, who gave me (I guess) the illness he caught from a friend while visiting out here for two weeks. My father, my stepmother, my aunt, and my two cousins were all here over Xmas, all staying at my sister's (my dad and stepmother were at my mom's mother-in-law-apartment, where he can smoke his pipe, addict that he is. He can't smoke at my apartment because my landlord made it a non-smoking building a couple of years ago). Anyway, R. had them all*, and was prostrate with exhaustion (I exaggerate, but not by much -- my father and my aunt [ex-wife of my mom's brother who died this Spring... there, I HAVE written less than a year ago, because I wrote about our Wisconsin/Chicago trip this Summer, for his memorial...] and cousins are not hella close, and my father very much wants the familial spotlight to himself.) I love him, but he's immensely emotionally insecure. Which bugs my sister, who hates to have to balance a bazillion emotional needs. I did my best to take up some of the slack with him and my stepmother, but ended vacation with severely swollen lymph nodes on the last weekend, and then a vile flu which I even gave up and went to Kaiser about... this whole past week. It's finally, FINALLY fucking departing, I believe. I don't even want to talk about what missing a week of work will mean. I guess I'll find out Monday.

The first thing which has given me any pleasure in 2016 is a Bollywood movie which I discovered tonight by Googling and Wikipedia-ing around... in fact, I think finally I just looked up Yash Raj releases, tbh. I haven't even finished it, but I am writing about it now, in the beginning of the film. Why? I guess because I haven't seen a Bollywood film I've loved for so very, very long. Dhoom 3 was such a relentless disappointment, especially with Aamir Khan starring and being pompous as fuck (with another of his hella ridiculous attempts to portray someone vaguely Aspergers? Actually, that's slightly unfair, as Shah Rukh Khan has as much blame as Aamir to shoulder, in that regard... but at least SRK's versions are so fucking over the top that you almost don't care (I'm looking at you, My Name is Khan) and with a Chicago setting. They filmed, in fact, right in front of the building one of my above-mentioned cousins lived in, at the time. The film also deeply disappointed my younger niece, whom I have successfully recruited to Bollywood addiction, unlike her older sister, who now only politely tolerates Bollywood, much like she sort of politely tolerates cats (astounding! How could anyone in my family not love cats?). R-the-younger's favorite movie in the world is Dhoom 2, and she loves Aishwarya Rai... (I have to remember to tell her that Aish has a couple of films due out relatively soon; she'll be overjoyed). So this bleaker D3 was a miserable flop for her.

So, to the film I am ENJOYING. It's called Detective Byomkesh Bakshy, and it stars someone I'd never seen until an earlier movie tonight (also quite cute, called Shuddh Desi Romance) -- Sushant Singh Rajput**, and other actors I've never heard of. The rising tide churns big names over so quickly -- actors I like a lot, like Priyanka Chopra and Rani Mukherjee and even Shahid Kapoor are less seen, and names I've never heard of are at the top. The movie is a period mystery thriller, and oh, my god, the production values are so insanely better than the aspirants to that category from the 1980s, 1990s, and even 2000s. It's apparently based on a comic book character, a disappointed academic in Calcutta during WWII who becomes a detective and has adventures. Great background. Lush filming. WWII facing east towards the Japanese and Chinese, from the viewpoint of nationalist Indians. I hope this movie bears out my absolutely caught fascination. I'll report, maybe, later. Thank fuck I am finally even feeling up to watching movies. It was a wretched week.

*Well, I had my mother staying with me, on my living room futon with the Xmas tree. That way, my dad and stepmother could be at her place, etc. It's actually really nice having my mom stay with me, even for two weeks. We would get on each other's nerves after that point, no doubt -- I know that, as we lived together right before I moved out to Cali, and it was fucking hard for us not to grate on each other then. Now she's older, and I am a real adult with a full-time job, so she has less to be resentful about. God, I can't stop dangling my prepositions. I always consider writing those sentences correctly, and then think it out in my head and decide it sounds contrived.

**Oh, these (at least apparently) Indian elite names of actors... it's like in England, where people like Christopher Eccleston complain rightly that Eton boys and Sloane girls get all the acting jobs... Kunal Kapoor (not Shashi's son, who has the same name but is a generation older and unrelated) has made the identical complaint... I recall reading about his pretty ordinary father, possibly a Punjabi carpenter, though I might be remembering that wrong, not long after seeing him in Rang de Basanti, still my favorite Bollywood movie ever. ANYWAY, my point was that Kunal Kapoor was in solidarity with Christopher Eccleston's class-based complaint... but now Kapoor has married into the premier Bollywood acting clan, the Bachchans.
-- The Glee cast duet of "Baby It's Cold Outside" sung by the two main gay characters as a seduction piece. Awesome.

-- Celestial seasonings herbal tea -- I forgot how good this stuff is. Mmm -- Mandarin Orange Spice. My sister had a sampler, and her daughters pressed various kinds on me, the past few times I've been over of an evening. This led me to buy some boxes -- the aforesaid Mandarin Orange Spice, and Lemon Zinger, and Tangerine-Orange Zinger -- when I was out shopping this afternoon. Also bought: a frozen mini-quiche for breakfast, some fresh squeezed orange juice, some Straus Dairy organic egg nog, some fancy canned cat food, diced boneless lamb for scotch broth tomorrow, some pine-smelling votive lights

-- having cats, even cats who bat at ornaments on the tree (really, only Devlin is prone to that)


-- having a brilliantly-lit Xmas tree, even if one cat bats at the ornaments

-- pine smelling votive lights

-- heat I can turn on, that eventually fills even this high-ceilinged room

-- fresh orangey-red freesia flowers

-- a hella comfy chair and ottoman and cover, from which I am going to watch some DVD -- possibly the only BluRay disc I own (it was the cheapest one at Best Buy, that seemed watchable) The Last Samurai. Or maybe one of the very many Bollywood movies I am behind on, though the ones that come to mind are both serious nationalist political pictures -- one is called The Man Who Wanted to Kill Vasco de Gama, and the other is one of the proliferating narratives of non-Gandhian, non-pacifist nationalist rebellion against the Brits.
maeve66: (fairylights dhamaka)
Michael Jackson's a cappella voice singing a schmaltzy Xmas song when he was eight or something. "Give Love on Christmas Day". It's ridiculous, but I love Xmas music, of most varieties. Every year I try to buy a new album of some sort.

Changing my laptop's wallpaper to a picture like the one in my icon -- fairylights from a past Xmas tree photographed by a moving camera. It seems odd that laptop wallpaper can affect my mood, but it totally can.

Drinking tea.

Eating sliced jarlsberg cheese on buttered toast, and also excellent beef-thyme-barley soup from Mama's Royal Cafe which I got to go right before they closed this afternoon. I need to make some Scotch lamb barley stew, mmm. Lamb and carrots and thyme and bay leaf and onions and barley in a chicken broth, but very thickened by the barley.


Reading a Regency Romance -- even though it is by another LDS author: damn these LDS authors are EVERYWHERE. You know why, right? Because they are stay-at-home-mothers. Yes, of course housework is labor, and should be recompensed by the State. Nevertheless, I might be an author in those circumstances. Maybe. Anyway, this LDS woman's politics are sort of... compelling to try to tease out in her plots and such.

Going to bed hella early. I've got about another hour. This FUCKING sinus/ear whatever it is is still kicking my ass.



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